Nirm Shanbhag is the Chief Strategy Officer of Sid Lee USA, an international creative company. He’s also my old boss. Back in 2012, he was running the San Francisco office of Interbrand, and he hired me as Director of Verbal Identity. Before Interbrand, Nirm earned his MBA from London Business School and worked in advertising, at firms like Mullen and McCann. He also ran his own, independent agency, Notch Strategy, for about six years between his roles at Interbrand and Sid Lee.
Nirm and I have worked together quite a bit—first at Interbrand, then as independent consultants. We’ve been called in on brand architecture projects a few times, and Nirm is one of just a handful of people I consider an expert on the topic. Since I haven’t had too many (any) episodes focused on brand architecture, I was eager to get Nirm to share some of his insights into brand architecture—what it is, why it matters, and how it should be done. Throughout the conversation, Nirm came back time and again to the idea of keeping the consumer’s journey front and center, considering their motivations and approaches to decision-making.
We also talked about brand purpose, and whether brands are good or bad for society (heady stuff). At the end of the conversation, Nirm recommended two very different books: The Experience Economy (“a seminal work and … one that not a lot of people know about”) and A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking.
I’ve probably read [A Brief History of Time] four times in my life. The reason I think it’s worthwhile is because, yeah, it’s about physics, but at its heart it’s a book about perspective and recognizing that your perspective can change.”
– Nirm Shanbhag
To learn more about Nirm and Sid Lee, visit sidlee.com. I also recommend you check out some of Nirm’s blog posts on the Notch blog.